Consider This . . . Color Printers

For me, 1984 represents the start of the computer generation and the point for all measurements of change. Depending on your inclination at the time, you had your choice of an IBM machine with 64K of RAM, two floppy drives and no hard drive, or the Apple Macintosh, which was just as diminutive. The price for either of these little powerhouses was high and, of course, they came with these lovely little black and white or amber monitors in later generations. As I have discussed, over the past couple years we have witnessed exponential increases in operating power and a corresponding decrease in size and price. These changes have radically altered the computer landscape and continue to do so even today. Just a couple issues back we talked at length about the remarkable changes in monitor technology---the growing popularity of the flat LCD screens, which have now become a free upgrade on many systems sold by makers like Dell and Gateway.

There is one device in the home and office computer configuration/systems that, in my opinion, has not received an appropriate amount of attention---the printer. This device is normally mated to each new computer that passes through. We have long since abandoned those Neanderthal Epson sprocket feed serial impact printers Unfortunately-and I presume you are like me-I still have a couple of those printers stored away right beside the old typewriters.

The replacement for those older printers was the black and white Hewlett Packard (HP) laser printers, models II, III, IIIP+, and now 5si, etc. Other printers like Brother and Sharp share the stage, but HP has a respectable market share on that component of the system. Recent press releases indicate HP is going to be much more aggressive in capturing the high-end commercial color printing market as well. Those HP lasers refuse to die. I am convinced that the secret is in the disposable cartridge, as 80 percent of the machine is built into that $40-$80 cartridge. Each new cartridge is like getting a new machine, but it is still old technology and it is still black and white. It is time to stop and consider the newest printers with color.

For several years I have had a variety of color printers available to me. Three years ago I participated in the decision to purchase a Minolta Magicolor 2200 laser printer. At that time the Minolta was priced at $2,400. Today, that machine---with 1200dpi, 32MB of RAM upgradeable to 96MB and is 10/100 network ready out of the box---can be purchased locally for under $1,000. The fusion technology of the Minolta unit more closely resembles the laserjet rather than the inkjet technology. The copy quality of the Minolta is near the top of copiers and, while more costly per page than black and white, at less than 10 cents it's a solid value and performer. HP also has a great color laser copier with similar features in the 4550N priced at $2,500. The Lexmark C720 is $1,800. These machines produce B&W copies at nearly 20 pages per minute, but can be as slow as five to 10 per minute when producing color copies. The laser color copies appear to me to be more durable than the output from their inkjet counterparts.

I have, however, found that the HP G85 multi-function unit, which I have used for several months, to be more to my liking. The additional features, like scanning and faxing, plus great color copies make up for the slower color copy speed of 10 ppm. Anyone with a digital camera won't mind the wait and the instant gratification of making your own prints. Within the past few months HP has introduced a new LaserJet multi-purpose unit model D135 which is advertised as producing 19 ppm in B&W and 16 ppm in color. The new unit can also handle legal size documents and has a dual paper tray system. Both units have an automatic document feeder for faxing or copying. If you don't need the multi-purpose units, I would look at the HP CP1160 and the 2200cse. Both of these units are advertised as producing color copies from 10 to 16 ppm. The good news is that all four of the HP inkjet units are priced below $500. Internet shopping can probably bring at least the G85 under $400, as was the case for me. These units continue to use a dual ink cartridge system and, at least the first two units referred to, use the same cartridges, which are now available in more and more places, including our local Giant food stores. I have not attempted to refill the cartridges myself, although it is possible to buy refill kits over the Internet and at the Office Depot stores.

Aside from the technical aspect of the decision, there is one thing that is undeniable. When you give someone a color copy the reaction is always one of excitement and to those not accustomed to such output, envy.

I can guarantee that, once you migrate to color, you will never look back and things will never look the same again. I know it's no longer spring, but it's never too late to add color to your life and work.

If you have comments or suggestions, or have an idea for a future computer or business topic, e-mail me at or

Jimmy R. Hammond, CPA, is a resident of Annapolis and a consultant to businesses in Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington D.C.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

Additional comments ?

Last time we asked, "How many past issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine do you have? " Out of all the responses, we found that most of our readers keep at least 3 issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine around the house, but a couple of our readers have over several years of issues! We're glad to hear that so many of you stay with us!

Thanks to all those that voted!

Results Posted Every Issue!!

Backyard Publications, LLC. ©2004. 433 Fourth St, Annapolis, MD 21403 - Phone 410-263-6300 - Fax 410-267-8668